Diapering During a Pandemic: Why I Finally Decided to Try Cloth
From essential oils to homemade baby food — I’ve always been game for anything I can do to integrate my parenting style with environmentally conscious and earth-friendly practices, with one exception — cloth diapers.
At first, I tried (half-heartedly) to tell myself I could get into cloth diapering. I loved the thought of reducing waste, saving money, and inspiring others to do the same — but I never took myself to task. Cloth diapering just seemed too large of a bite for this earth mama. I told myself it would be: Too much of a commitment. Too messy. Too inconvenient. Too confusing. Just. Too. Hard.
Then, my baby boy, Jones, hit the 18-month milestone.
Toilet paper — gone. Groceries — scarce. Citizens — frenzied. And worst of all -- DIAPERS AND WIPES WERE BECOMING HARDER AND HARDER TO FIND.
I knew the time had come to face the cloth. Now, one thought resounds in my mind, “Why didn’t I start this sooner?!”
Lie #1: It’s All or Nothing
At first, I had a moment of panic. Worried, I wouldn't be able to find disposable diapers in the future (or be able to leave my house to get them). I didn't go 0 to 60 with cloth diapers — I simply said to myself, “Okay, let's see if I can even figure these things out."
I started with two diapers* — one Rumparooz Aplix Diaper Cover and one Thirsties Duo Wrap Aplix Cover.
*Basically, your options are a one or two-piece system for cloth diapering. Since I already had a zillion cloth diaper inserts (we used them as burp rags when Jones was a newborn), the two-piece system made the most sense for us. I liked the idea of being able to change out just the insert (unless the cover got really gross) when he needed a diaper change.
We started slowly, my husband and I began letting Jones run around the house in a cloth diaper for part of the day and then switching back to disposable diapers as needed. We quickly realized that saving on a few disposable diapers a day made a huge difference in our baby budget and lessened the number of diapers that end up in our local landfills.
Lie #2: It’s Too Complicated
It didn't take long for us to realize that our stockpile of cloth inserts wasn't going to cut it. Made of thin cotton, they leaked through almost immediately. Not to mention, my partner had a harder time figuring out the correct way to fold them inside of the diaper cover. We needed something foolproof.
I'd heard good things and decided to try Bumkins Contour Soaker Diapers. I grabbed 10 to start (5 of the two packs). I liked the way they fit nicely inside of the diaper covers, and no folding required! (The Alva Bamboo Charcoal Liners were the other ones I tried and ended up liking!) I also grabbed three more of the Thirsties diaper covers. I liked the way the Thirsties fit — just a little better than the Rumparooz. (Personal preference, they are both great!)
Once we landed on the right liners, ones that work well for both my partner and I, we felt more comfortable putting Jones in a cloth diaper, no longer worrying about leaks! We also had extra covers, so if we did need to cycle them through the wash a couple at a time, it was no big deal.
It was at this point; We started to see cloth as longterm possibility for our family.
Lie #3: It’s Too Gross!
Okay. I'm not going to lie. Of course poop is gross. Duh, it's POOP! And cleaning up poop, hassle-free, is obviously a huge draw for disposable diapers. While poop is gross, we learned what we needed to do to make cleanup hassle-free.
The key here is HASSLE FREE. And believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do to make a cloth diaper poop clean up a tidy experience.
So, if there is poop, what's the plan? We learned the best way to deal with poops was to install a cloth diaper sprayer on our toilet. Our pain-free "protocol" for poops is to take the dirty liner to the bathroom, spray it out over the toilet if needed, and then place it in a HASSLE FREE location.
*We first tried the Bumkins Wet Bags, which are fantastic and we love, but neither of us liked the fact that we had to zip and unzip the bag to get the poopy liner in. We found that if the routine wasn't seamless and functional, it was just another excuse to put Jones back in a disposable diaper.
So, we ended up getting a small trash bin and a reusable diaper pail liner to throw the inserts into. The same applies for pee diapers; they are just easier because you don't have to spray them out. Easy peasy.
We do at least a small load of laundry almost every day, so for us, there's no added work! Again — find what works for you! You may like to have a bag that zips if you don't do laundry as often.
There are a few things to note that also helped me during this transition…
- Since we were following "Stay-at-Home" orders — it was easier to get the hang of cloth diapers with all of the resources and comforts of being at home. You don't have to be quarantined to start cloth diapering, though! Just try to choose a time when you'll likely be around the house to create those new habits.
- My husband has been very supportive, but we have both taken the time to communicate what's working — and what's not! Be mindful of anything you find yourself using as an excuse NOT to use a cloth diaper -- chances are, there may be something you can change to make it a better experience for you, your partner, or your baby.
- I have loved learning from and connecting with cloth diaper pros and trail blazers! Zoolikins has a free cloth diapering 101 class plus tons of free resources, and friendly staff that helped me with questions I had along the way!
As I said from the very beginning, if I knew what I know now, I would have made the transition to cloth diapering a long time ago. But, in the spirit of gratitude and positivity, I am thankful that we started when we did. I’ve already been reading ahead about how cloth diapers can make potty training easier! ;) (Please let us know in the comments if you can report back on your cloth diapering/potty training journey!)
I now have the space to reduce waste, save money, and inspire others to do the same. And if I can do it, YOU CAN TOO!
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
Happy Cloth Diapering! :)